I didn't really know where I was going. I found the church ok and parked two blocks away. It appeared to be a typical south side Polish neighborhood. I followed some old dudes figuring they knew where they were going.
The Smoker was going on inside the adjoining school's gymnasium. A Smoker is the term church's use for a social gathering where you play cards. Typically a bunch of old men are sitting at tables playing cards and smoking bad cigars. There are all kinds of games going on around the room. Sheepshead, cribbage, euchre, stud. You find what you want to play ask to sit on in. For $9 at the door, I was allowed in and access to all the beer I wanted. There would be food later too.
I headed towards the corner where they were signing people up for the Hold Em tournament. I signed in at #40. It was believed they would cut it off at 64. Interest was high and they started up with 80. Not too bad.
I was excited to be playing in a local tourney again. I hadn't played one probably since the Badger Poker days. Maybe I should drop in on one of those again.
I took my seat assignment at Table 5, seat 4. I scanned the table to make a quick assessment of what I might be up against. The guy my left was the spitting image of Frank Costanza. Each time I looked at him I wanted to yell Serenity Now or Hoochie Mama! He was a nice guy though so I kept it to myself. Next was hyper active guy. Had the look that he kinda knew what he was doing but isn't as good as he thinks he is. The librarian was next. He always looked aloof and could be read like a book. An old guy was on his right who was a total calling station, next was total dead money guy, and then Bradley Center.
Bradley Center was a young guy chain smoking his Camels. He was one of those who acted like he knew what he was doing, throwing out the names of hands, and making chip movements like he would bet and stuff. Basically he looked like everything he learned about poker was from watching it on TV. The only thing he lacked was the sunglasses. But he quite proud of his gig working at the Bradley Center (Milwaukee's hockey/basketball arena) stocking the suites. He was happy he didn't have to do much and got paid $11 to do so.
Next to BC was an older guy who was pretty aggressive. A non descript guy next to him and finally on my immediate right was an older lady.
I got a great impression on how this game was going to go on the first hand. 6 people in the hand. Whoooooooo Party Poker! The librarian ended up winning with two pair, aces and queens. Oh, the aces were pocket rockets! He limped in from the button with 3 others with A A. He then made agonizing calls on each street. It wasn't an act either. Oh boy! I watched this go for a bit. Rarely any preflop raises at the table. So when I got A Q a couple of hands in, I immediately popped it to 175 (25/50). Frank Costanza called as did the lady who had limped under the gun. Flop was all rags. I made my continuation bet and took down the pot.
I believed I also succeeded in setting an image for myself with that play as well. Tight and solid. Each time I entered a pot with a raise, I got respect and started to chip up. I used this to my advantage too. With the flow of the game and my image established, I loosened up. And suited paint was played with an opening bet. I ran into trouble only once when the old calling station hit his straight on the river (J K 10 9 on board) and I was trying to buy a pot with A 9.
My favorite early hand involved dead money guy and hyper active dude. Dead money made a min raise UTG. If any betting was happening, it was min bets and raises. No understanding of pot odds to how to bet going on. Hyper called and they see a flop of A 9 9. Hyper active immediately pushes all in. Pot was about 300 and he bet 1100. Makes sense. Dead money thinks and calls showing A K. I laughed when hyper showed 7 9 suited for trips. It held up and dead money had one green chip left. He then laments to the old calling station that he had no choice. He had to call there. Two others chime in that it was the right move. I laughed some more at that. I knew hyper active dude had the 9. It was like the Full Tilt commercial. There were bells and whistles going off all over the place. Laying A K down was such a easy play there. It is way too early to make that stupid call.
Just before the break for food, I chipped up nicely in one hand with Costanza. Blinds were up to 100/200. With J 10, I went in for steal. I made a 3 1/2xs raise. Costanza called on the button and the blinds went away. Flop came Q J 7. I bet out 700, but suddenly Costanza raised me 500 more (yeah, it was the size of my bet but I wasn't going to argue). The raise knocked me back. Huh? Am I running into trouble here? I called. Turn is a 10. As much as I like the card, I hate it too. I check. Costanza bets 500. And I go right into the tank! I took probably a minute and a half before I made my move. I looked at him and tried to figure out what he was playing. The range of hands he could have was small to me. Did he flop a set of 7s? He would call the preflop bet with that. Did he have Q J? I think so. If so, I am dominated. I ruled out A K, even though he would have just smooth called the raise, but I don't think he would have raised on the flop for a 4 outer. I finally put him on K Q and called. If he then bet the river, I would have to consider pushing or folding. River was a rag. I checked as did Frank. He showed Q 3 suited and took a good pot. Whew!
We then had a break for food. I headed in to take a piss. I found the restroom to be interesting. I chuckled at the door that read "Boys". The little sinks were cute too. I then went into the cafeteria to grab some chow. They had mashed potatoes, German potato salad and green beans in the front. After that, it was sausage central. There was Polish sausage. Slovenian sausage, and Croatian sausage, both mild and hot. There was chicken too, but I didn't care. The sausage was damn good. These old ladies can cook. It was probably made by members of the parish. Kudos to them!
After eating, I lost that hand to the calling station which set me back a bit. I then tried to make a move on one of the new guys at the table. With J 10 suited, I raised it up again. I got called by the new in the BB. Flop was 8 Q x. He bet out. Ok. I bet, he called. Turn was another 8. This time he bet out. Is he holding an 8? His bet was 500, too small for the pot. I had a good feeling here and called. River was a 9. I hit my gutshot. He checked and I pushed. He called with A Q. I doubled up and was happy.
During that first hour, we kept having people get knocked out. Bradley Center lasted about a half hour when he tried to bluff the hyper active guy. Hyper knocked 3 people out collecting $20 bounties on them. I collected none. I knocked people out after the bounties were gone. Old aggressive dude was gone in about 20 minutes as was the lady on my right. And it was all on very poor play. There were chasing or drawing dead each time.
They then broke down our table. I knew the game was about to change when I sat across from my friend Brian. I know he plays and I expected to see some aggression at the table. That is exactly what I saw. There were some younger guys here. The Miller man had some chips but looked like was about to fall asleep. The old guy was a non factor. Marquette had some big stacks and was trying to control the table. Acme hat was quiet and would show himself to be a push monkey. The chick at the table was really tight. She had a tomboy look and a nice rack. She liked to play these tourneys and was having a good time. Much better than the boyfriend who sweated her and just wanted to go home.
I watched the action for a bit until I jumped in with 10 10 in MP. It folded to Marquette who went through all stages of anguish before slamming his chips in the middle. All the time he was fretting, I thought about what he might have. Any big pair was out. A K too. Maybe A Q or A J or A 10. I finally settled with A x. Flop was K Q 10, two diamonds. He quickly pushed. I waited 2 seconds before calling. I was confident I had him here. His slamming of the chips was all I needed to see. As I tossed my 10s up, I asked to see A J, the nuts. Instead he showed 7 5 suited. Before the turn was shown, he was already stacking chips to move to me. That was a big double through for me. It put me around 10,000 and a comfortable spot with around 20 left. An old guy with glasses was moved in. He claimed to be new at this but his play said otherwise. He was aggressive and made bigger bets. He and I went to battle on some small pots and talked a bit between hands.
One interesting hand did come up. I am pretty sure I was right, though not 100%. Blinds are 200/400. I was in the SB. Glasses limped UTG. Next guy to act was a short stack. He goes all in for 600 total. It folds around to me. I have crap and toss the cards. The BB calls the 200. Now UTG wants to raise. I said he couldn't raise, because the bet that was made was half a bet. It had to be full bet for him to be allowed to re-raise. Of course, no one agreed. They call the tourney guys over and we explain the situation. They say he can. I tell them I am pretty sure they are wrong, but hey, I am not even involved in the hand so what does it matter to me? Now UTG goes and raises all in, which is called by the BB. He then shows 2 2! WTF? Amazingly, it held up. But can anyone tell me who is right here? I believe that any opening bet had to be full raise in order for any other raises behind to occur. I think I will go post this question over at Poker Works. Hopefully, Linda or someone else in the biz can give me the correct ruling.
I won a couple more small pots before we moved to two tables. Most of the table I was at moved as well. At this table I was able to drop the Hammer. Well, ok, I didn't really "drop" it. I caught it in the BB and saw the flop for free. Flop gave me an OESD. I checked as did the limper. Turn was a rag. I went to make a move and bet 2/3 of his stack. Amazing he just called. River was a 4 giving me my straight. I pushed and he showed top pair. I threw my cards down, announcing Hammer Time! and dragged the pot. I smiled as I saw the shocked looks from around the table.
I would win just one more big pot at this table. I was up against the spectacled man with the deuces. I had raised it up in MP with K Js. He called from the BB. Flop was A high. I bet out and he called. Turn was a rag. I bet out again. He grabbed a stack of chips and played with them in his hand. He set them down and picked up his cards. As he played with the cards, he flashed one to me. A deuce. There was a 2 on the board. He was calling with bottom pair? He called. I fire again on the river when a rag hit. He folded. At this point, I had somewhere around 30,000 I believe which put in the top 3 overall. With 12 of us left, I was going to make money. My friend even commented I could fold to the money. Yeah, but I wanted to wield that stack to get more.
When we got down to 11, they decided to consolidate to the final table. Ten would pay. I looked around and saw 3 tiny stacks. Blinds are 1000/2000 at this point. I was in seat 11 so I was right behind the button so I didn't need to play until a couple people were knocked out. The tiny stacks played so tight. In fact, 2 of them basically blinded themselves out. One guy posted the small blind and have just 1000 behind. He folded instead of calling and having a chance to triple up. Finally the chick showed some balls and moved her 3000 only to be knocked out on the bubble. I just couldn't believe those guys played like total wimps. They got their money back though so who is to question it.
Now my friend had pointed out I could just fold into the money. That is what happened. I didn't have to play a hand for a while. But I wanted to play. I just never caught any cards. It was a total card cemetery for me at this final table. The best I saw was A 5. In EP. Q 10 in late position looked good but there was a big raise in front of me. Otherwise I had total crap. Plus it seemed the blinds were going up whenever they felt like raising them. And they ran out of beer. Could it get any worse?
People were dropping like flies. The worst player at the table was also sucking out big time! He would raise with ATC, call down with absolutely nothing but catch on the river, and just suck out again and again. It was ugly.
And all this time I have nothing. The first time the blinds come to me they were suddenly 3000/6000. It hadn't even been a full orbit. I had to fold to a big raise in each blind with crap. The next time they come around they are 5000/10000. We are down to 4 now and I haven't played single hand at this final table. I am blinded out in the SB. I manage to double up with K high, but then the suckout artist hits his gutshot straight on the next hand to knock me out in 4th. I would have had 3rd but the short stack got lucky 3 hands earlier.
Fourth place got me $250 so I am not complaining. I just cannot believe how card dead I was. I don't think I was playing super tight either. When the action was to me, I had bad cards. If I had an A, I was either in EP or there was action ahead of me. I was somewhat content to let them knock the others out and push me up the money ladder, but I wanted to be able to fight too. That never happened.
I did witness some very soft poker all night. When the guys paid me and said "See you at the next one", I quickly assured them I would be. I would say that half the field was bad. The other half maybe has 10 good players while the other had a clue on just how to survive.
There is another tournament next week that I have contingent plans to hit. Should be just as juicy.